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Southeast Asia Posts 'Eye-Catching Advances'

by 5m Editor
28 October 2011, at 10:31am

ASIA - World attention may focus on China but Southeast Asian markets are undergoing dramatic changes that include a growing dependence on feed grain imports, reports Adel Yusupov, US Grains Council regional director in Southeast Asia.

“We’re seeing a decline in domestic crop production and burgeoning feed demand,” said Yusupov.

“US corn exports to Southeast Asia are up almost 1,000 percent year-on-year, and regional feed millers have been sitting on the edge of their chairs watching the Chicago corn market. Feed production is up this year in every single Southeast Asian market, and millers are taking advantage of every temporary dip in the price of corn.”

He cited growth rates ranging from three to eight percent and equally revealing data on corn imports.

“The region is expected to import a record 7.5 to 8 million metric tons (296 to 315 million bushels) of corn in 2011,” Yusupov said.

“This is a 60 per cent increase or 3 million tons (118 million bushels) more than the region’s 2007 purchases. I believe Southeast Asia’s growing appetite for meat and shortfalls in local production will create a corn market bigger than that of South Korea or perhaps even Mexico within a few years.”

More specifically, he noted that Indonesia surpassed Malaysia this year as the dominant corn importer. US corn sales to Indonesia reached 407,000 tons (16 million bushels) in the January-to-July period, an increase of almost 4,000 percent over the same period last year.

The Council has successfully made the case to key Indonesian buyers that U.S. corn offers superior wet milling characteristics compared to local, Indian, or Argentine corn, and Council training on corn procurement and risk management has contributed to one company’s shift from the top importer of Argentine corn to being the number one importer of US corn.

Trade sources indicate Indonesia could import from 2.5 to 3 million tons (99 to 118 million bushels) of corn this year. The US market share is expected to reach 15 to 20 per cent.

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